Dog Chow pulls down Purina’s reputation. We do not recommend this dog food due to the number of filler ingredients, limited amounts of real meat protein, added food dyes, and below average estimated nutrient contents.
Dog Chow is one of the biggest name brands in the dog food industry, and is sold all over the world by the Nestlé Purina PetCare company. The success of the “Chow” line has also allowed them to expand into other areas as well, with spin-offs including Puppy Chow and Cat Chow.
For this review, we analyzed a bag of Dog Chow Complete Adult Chicken Flavor.
Quality of Ingredients
Despite the vast popularity and long history of the company, the ingredients in Dog Chow are less than optimal. Despite the fact that the packages advertise as having real meat in every bag, the amount of that meat in comparison to fillers is very low. The first five ingredients in Dog Chow are whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, and soybean meal. And not only that, but the food is also packed full of artificial coloring and preservatives, so it is definitely not a good choice for any dogs with sensitivities, or for owners who are looking for healthier, more natural foods.
Purina sometimes gets a bad reputation for sub-par food, but you can see from our overall Purina review that their Pro Plan is actually pretty good. In my opinion, Dog Chow really brings their reputation down significantly.
Full Ingredients and Analysis
Analyzing the first 10 ingredients in a dog food is a great way to understand the overall nutrient content of the dog food because AAFCO requires all dog food ingredients to be listed in order of predominance by their weight. Here’s a closer look at what’s inside Dog Chow Complete Adult Chicken Flavor.
Whole Grain Corn, Meat and Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat Preserved with Mixed-Tocopherols, Soybean Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Egg and Chicken Flavor, Whole Grain Wheat, Animal Digest, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Mono and Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Yellow 6, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Blue 2, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Garlic Oil, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Biotin, Sodium Selenite.
While Dog Chow surpasses the AAFCO guidelines for minimum amounts of protein, it still falls well below average for both protein and fat, while carbs are higher than average. This is obvious by looking at the first 10 ingredients.
In addition, Blue #2 is a food dye that’s legal in the United States for use in both animal and pet food, but some groups have recently pushed for it to be banned. Research suggests that this food dye may cause cancer in rats and cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. The affect on dogs has not been studied. Reference
Ingredients You May Wonder About:
- L-lysine: L-lysine is an essential amino acid.
- Niacin: Also known as Vitamin B3.
- Copper: Copper is found in nearly all living things and is required in the diet to keep a dog healthy. As a result, nearly all dog foods add small levels of copper in accordance to AAFCO guidelines.
- Calcium pantothenate: This is another B Vitamin that’s healthy for your dog and considered a requirement for a complete diet by the AAFCO. Reference
- Pyridoxine: Also known as Vitamin B6, a healthy part of your dog’s diet. Reference
- Thiamine mononitrate: This is a scientific name for Vitamin B1. Too little Vitamin B1 can cause a variety of health issues and any excess is easily flushed from the body. Most manufacturers add this dog food to stay in line with AAFCO guidelines. Reference
Dog Chow Product Line
Dog Chow has a number of different formulas geared towards dogs of different shapes and sizes. In the interests of keeping this list from dragging on forever, we will only look at a handful of them, but those left off include puppy and weight loss mixes specifically.
Natural is by far the highest quality of al of the Dog Chow lines, and promises that all of the ingredients that go into it were made right here in the USA. Unlike the other lines, Natural also has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives added into it, however, the first ingredient is still corn, and the actual chicken portion of the ingredient list does not appear until the seventh entry, behind other things like by-products and whole grain wheat, among other fillers.
Little Bites is made specifically with the needs of smaller dogs in mind, and as such has smaller kibble to make it easier for the little guys to eat. The website also promises “high quality protein sources, including, real chicken and beef” to help support smaller pets higher metabolisms, but like the rest of the foods produced by Dog Chow, the real meat does not make an appearance until well into the ingredient list, and the first ingredient is corn. That said, however, the food does have 23 vitamins and minerals added in, and is formulated to help fight plaque and keep teeth clean.
Complete Adult is the standard food from the line, and the one that the company has made the most money on throughout its history. It also comes in two flavors, beef and chicken, but as usual, the meat does not appear until deep into the ingredient list and the first ingredients are corn and by-products. The chicken bag, however, does promise to use 100% American raised chicken, and both are formulated to be easily digestible and to support immune health with their blend of vitamins and minerals.
Picky Eaters, as the name suggests, is formulated for more finnicky dogs and is made with both tender and crunchy pieces to appeal to the widest set of animals possible. The packaging advertises that it has extra protein in it and says that it is made with real lamb, but as with the rest of the Dog Chow products, the first several ingredients are corn, wheat, and by-products.
About Dog Chow
Dog Chow is owned by Nestlé Purina PetCare, one of the largest pet food companies on the planet, which significantly increases their footprint and means that they have a much larger portion of the market than many of their competitors.
Dog Chow was the creation of researchers at Purina who, during the 1950’s, decided to grow their small rural animal food company into one that specifically marketed towards household pets. As a result, the company began five years of trials, testing their product on hundreds of animals, the first bag of Dog Chow hit the market in 1957. Within two years, the company had become the best-selling dog food in the United States, and continues to hold a huge percent of the marketplace to this day.
Where to Buy
Dog Chow can be found just about any place that pet food is sold. Everywhere from supermarkets and gas stations to big pet food retailers can be found to carry the brand. Unfortunately for those looking to get their hands on a bag, however, many smaller specialty shops opt not to carry it because of the low quality of the food, preferring to give their limited shelf space to other, higher quality brands instead.
Dog Chow is also easily found only, and can be purchased from websites like Amazon or Chewwy, as well as an of the other big-name pet food websites. Additionally, several other sites like Walmart will also have the food available online, making this one of the most easily accessible brands on the market today.